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Library Research Guides

Textbook Affordability: FAQ

Questions Answered

"What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

In its simplest form, the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) describes
any educational resources (including curriculum maps, course materials,
textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other
materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning) that are openly
available for use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay
royalties or license fees. . . Openly licensed content can be produced in any medium: paper-based text, video, audio or computer-based multimedia. A lot of e-learning courses may harness OER, but this does not mean that OER are necessarily e-learning. Indeed, many open resources being produced currently – while shareable in a digital format – are also printable." - Neil Butcher in A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) 

How will Open Educational Resources affect students?

Typically, an instructor will put together a package of OER course materials or find an OER textbook that are accessible online for free.  Students who want a paper version will be able to purchase the materials at the bookstore at a cost that is much less than the traditional course materials. The library will also have copies that students can check out and use in the library.  OER materials could potentially save students thousands of dollars during their time at ARC.

Are OER resources accessible?

As with publisher content, some materials meet accessibility requirements, while some do not, and it is up to the instructor to ensure course materials are accessible. However, with OER materials that are openly licensed for modification, then they can be edited to make them accessible. You can contact the Instructional Technology Center at ARC for resources to determine and ensure your course materials are accessible. 

If my textbook is available on Reserve at the library, does this count as zero-cost?

The ARC Library maintains a large collection of current textbooks, comprising nearly 2,500 titles. However, this does not meet the need of all of our students, and there can be competition for reserve items, or students are limited to using the books in the library when open. If the materials are only available in print, and only a few copies are available for check-out in the library, then this is not sufficient access. While print copies of eBooks or online resources can be made available in the library (see above), this should only be as a supplement to the online resources.

Can I create my own materials if I can't find something for my course?

Yes! As OER grows, more and more instructors are starting to develop their own materials and make them available for others to use. Check out this video Designing for Open Pedagogy with CCCOER. Creative Commons has information and resources for licensing materials you create. 

What is SB-1359?

SB-1359 Public postsecondary education: course materials. 

"This bill would require each campus of the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and would request each campus of the University of California, to identify in the online version of the campus course schedule its courses that exclusively use digital course materials, as specified, and communicate to students that the course materials for these courses are free of charge and therefore not required to be purchased. By imposing new duties on community college districts, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would become operative on January 1, 2018."

What is AB 798?

California’s College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 (AB 798) program. During the Spring 2016 semester the SCC Academic Senate passed a resolution in support of OER and approved a plan for SCC to participate in the AB 798 incentive award program. In Fall 2016 SCC accepted an AB 798 award of $19,000 based on faculty from 19 class sections committing to adopt OER during the 2016-2017 academic year - From Sacramento City College Open Educational Resources page. 

A Review of the Effectiveness & Perceptions of Open Educational Resources As Compared to Textbooks

Why OER and ZTCD at ARC?

High textbook costs continue to deter students at ARC from purchasing assigned materials for classes, despite the fact that lack of such materials is injurious to successful completion of the course.  As noted in several national surveys conducted by the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in 2014 and 2016, students are forced to forego assigned textbooks---which are an essential aid in learning new material, completing assignments, and studying for exams---because they are too expensive, and are knowingly accepting the risk of a lower grade to avoid paying for the textbook. The PIRG also found that students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course, and more than half of the students felt significant concern for their grade. Students are not only choosing not to purchase the materials they are assigned by their professor, but they are knowingly accepting the risk of a lower grade to avoid paying for the textbook.

"82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional. This is exactly how open textbooks are designed."
graph showing: 1% somewhat better; 82% significantly better; 17% no better(PIRG, 2014)

"Over the last decade, the price of college textbooks has soared. Since 2006, the cost of a college textbook increased by 73% - over four times the rate of inflation. Today, individual textbooks often cost over $200, sometimes as high as $400" (PIRG, 2016).

graph showing increase in costs from 1978 to 2014: educational books 945%, medical care 604%, new home prices 408%, consumer price index 262%

The new era of the $400 college textbook”  by Mark J. Perry,  July 26, 2015,  AEIdeas

Both recent trends and the analysis of data from the College feeder school districts suggest that the proportion of underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups will continue to rise at ARC (ARC Self Evaluation, 2015).

With this program, ARC seeks to boost college access and completion, particularly for underserved students, by engaging faculty and others in the replacement of proprietary/commercial textbooks with open education resources (OER).